Born in Odessa, Ukraine, Eugene Kotlyarenko raced through Columbia in three short years, fleeing Manhattan’s Morningside Heights in 2007 with little more than a laptop and Film Studies B.A. in his backpack. “In my mind I was like, ‘I gotta get the fuck out of school and move to L.A., because that’s where people make movies.’”
Following a week-long run at Dumbo’s reRun Gastropub Theater in March, Kotlyarenko’s DIY debut feature 0s & 1s (2011) returns for the theater’s first-annual Best Of celebration “reRun RERUNS” (our congratulations to programmer Aaron Hillis for making it to this one-year milestone). 0s & 1s is some sort of revolution in cinematic language. Its simple story of an Echo Park slacker who loses his laptop (and with it, his life’s work) is told through the prism of a computer-desktop interface. As the Village Voice’s Andrew Schenker succinctly puts it, “A riot of pop-up screens that ape everything from Facebook to first-person shooters….makes visible the invisible presence that defines our everyday social encounters.”
Peroxide enthusiast Jean Harlow once claimed that “if it hadn’t been for the color of my hair, Hollywood wouldn’t know I was alive.” So to cast platinum-plus Harlow as the lead of Red-Headed Woman, hiding her champagne-haloed bombshell beneath a ginger wig, was to work knowingly and flagrantly against type. Transforming an iconic dumb blonde into a flame-haired fatale is, however, just the first of this film’s many playful subversions.
As reiterated in the piece, the era abounds with bona fide classics: the comedies of Mae West and Ernst Lubitsch, game-changing gangster pics like The Public Enemy and Scarface, triumphs of style by Josef von Sternberg and Busby Berkley. But I particularly enjoy exploring the era’s dark corners and back alleyways, its underworld rogue’s gallery of “lecherous cads and compromised virgins, bullet barons and slick racketeers, liberated ladies and enterprising immigrants, adolescent vagrants and unscrupulous reporters, all followed by an endless parade of hard-boiled yeggs.”
But with fifty films, how ever does one choose their vice? Here with a few (un)healthy suggestions.
You might imagine that by now the history of cinema would be a written book, done and dusted. But there seem to be endless directors from the past left to be discovered – or, if they’ve had the misfortune to be forgotten, rediscovered. One such is Glauber Rocha, a pioneer of the Cinema Novo movement that galvanised Brazilian cinema in the 1960s. In Brazil, Glauber Rocha is anything but forgotten: there the Bahia-born director, who died in 1981 aged 43, is still revered and widely-screened, and his 1964 film Black God White Devil has been voted the greatest Brazilian film of all time. Outside Brazil, though, Glauber Rocha’s name has been largely neglected, his films generally associated with the wave of radicalism and sometimes visionary cinematic practice that emerged from Third World cinema in the 60s.
I want you to take what I’m about to say very seriously.
Remember when you were a kid and you were out to dinner with your parents or grandparents at some semi-high end restaurant and because you were too young to read they ordered for you and when the food came you didn’t want it because it looked unusual and they said, “Try it, you might like it” or “You never know until you try”? And then you tried it and, amazingly, you actually liked it? Remember that?